Jalapeno & Basil Infused Baked White Fish

photo 3I’m excited to blog about this adapted recipe from Jamie Oliver from Jared Koch’s book ‘The Clean Plates Cookbook,’ as it taught me a new way to make sauces and created an opportunity to learn how to defrost fish well.

First preheat oven to 425F.

The sauce is first made by heating a little oil and browning minced garlic. Then the magic happens. The ends (stalks) of basil were chopped into tiny pieces and added to the pan. The jalapeno was pierced, then also added to the pan. Note that this fiery little thing was pierced so its flavour seeped out, rather than chopped to burn our tongues out. Finally the tomato sauce was added – I just used whatever I had left remaining in the fridge and chopped half a tomato to build up the sauce. Jamie Oliver’s recipe called for diced tomatoes, so just go for whatever you have on hand. Simmer for 30 minutes.

photo 1 (4)

At this point, you can add salt and pepper, or if you’re watching your sodium, hold off and add it at the end to taste. The original recipe called for sea salt. It also called for a full small packet of basil, but I found half was fine to create two servings.

In the meantime, you can defrost your fish fillets. In the past, I baked my fish as it was – frozen – straight from the freezer since I didn’t like floppy defrosted fish in the fridge. There’s something unappetizing about floppy defrosted fish puddling in the fridge. The problem with baking fish straight from the freezer is it tended to sit in a liquid puddle afterward anyway. Which is fine, as it takes on the flavours of other ingredients, creating a broth of some sort – while tasty, was not exactly visually appealing. I learned an awesome method to defrost steak and cook it well, so gave it a go by applying it to fish. The end results were two flaking fish, not overcooked, no puddles, and just lovely – which was a delight. See Tips – Savoury Cooking for tips on this.

After prepping and searing fish, place sauce in a baking dish, then lay the fillets over top. Top with basil leaves and olives. Bake for 15 – 19 minutes (keep checking it – fish will keep baking after you take it out).

photo 2 (1)

– 1/2 small packet of basil
– 1 jalapeno pepper
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 1.5 tbsp minced garlic
– 250g (approx.) crushed tomatoes
– 1/2 medium sized tomato
– 1.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar (original recipe calls for red wine vinegar)
– 2 white fish fillets*
– splash of white wine (optional)
– splash of Worcestershire sauce (absent from original recipe)
– pinch of salt to taste
– 8 whole olives

Side of baked potatoes
– 2 medium sized potatoes, scrubbed and sliced
– 1.5 tbsp olive oil
– rosemary

photo 4

* I used basa fish fillets as I wanted to try something new, having tried cod and tilapia before. I’ve since learned that basa fish are one of the many names given to catfish – the name given to those from around the Cambodian and Vietnamese regions – which are over-fished with poor regulations to how it is farmed. I’ve also learned (from Jared Koch’s book) that catfish are a type of scavenger fish – meaning they eat whatever they want, including dead fish. Next time I’ll be getting a different type of fish, although this hasn’t swayed me from tuna (yet), which is also a scavenger fish.


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